Let’s Talk with Diane A.S Stuckart

Father Knew Best
By Diane A.S Stuckart

This coming Sunday is Father’s Day, but I won’t be visiting my dad to celebrate, considering that he has been gone for more than twenty years now. Still, I think of him often and even have a picture of him at my desk. To be totally honest, however, my siblings and I had something of a contentious relationship with him growing up; he came from an old-school way of raising offspring that included corporal punishment and not much in the way of praise. But Eugene P. Smart, a/k/a Gene was a hard-working, social, joke-telling kind of man who could fix almost anything mechanical and had a penchant for inventing. In fact, following my mother’s death I found in the family papers a draft of letter he’d written to President Lyndon Johnson during the Vietnam War. It included a sketch of a Leonardo da Vinci-esque armored shell designed to protect soldiers in the field from explosives. I’m not sure if that letter ever got to the President, but I suspect Dad’s invention would have worked if it had.

And, just so the Kardashians and their fellow influencers know, my dad actually invented the selfie. Yep, years ago my sister showed me a close-up photo that he’d taken of himself with his ever-present Polaroid camera sometime back in the 60s. Dad also came up with the idea of adding a level to a cordless drill to make it easier to drive a screw in straight. He tried to register his invention via a patent attorney who listened to his pitch and then inexplicably blew him off. And then, a couple of years later, Black and Decker began putting out drills with built-in levels. Coincidence? He didn’t think so.

In fact, one of Dad’s catchphrases had to do with keeping one’s eyes open for a million-dollar idea. He tried to pass on a couple of those to a younger me, but I’d not yet reached the stage in my life where I finally realized that the man was always right. And so, I declined an idea of a cookbook for men that was based on taking canned foods like Spam or baked beans and adding a couple of ingredients to them to make a meal. Of course, a year or two after I saw that exact cookbook in the local Barnes and Noble.

When he became ill in his final years, Dad suggested that I could haul in the dollars if I started a home healthcare company. Not having any training in the field, I let that one pass…and not long after all sorts of home care companies such as Visiting Angels became a booming industry.

But what I most recall about Dad was that even though he wasn’t much of a reader, he always supported me in my writing career. Once, back in my historical romance days, he came to one of my bookstore signings and bought ten books to give away to his friends. The store manager and my fellow authors at the event were more than a little impressed. I hope that if he were still with us, he’d be proud of my move into cozy mystery. Though, come to think of it, during the O.J. Simpson trial he told me I really should switch over to writing true crime if I wanted to make the big bucks! And, you know, he probably was right.

Do you have any special memories of your father or father figure growing up…or, for the dads out there, do you recall a memorable Father’s Day?

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Comments

  1. My dad taught me the meaning and sound of words. To help me learn to slow my speech patterns, we read poetry aloud every night. I still have the books we read from……..

  2. My father didn’t know anything about mechanics or cars but decided to build a dune buggie. The electronics never worked quite right, but I drove that all about town. Even in a rain storm with non functioning windshield wipers, no top, and using hand signals.

    • dianestuckart says

      LOL, some times you just have to bull your way through things. Good for your dad and you!

  3. It’s no stretch of the imagination to believe you got your creativity from your dad. My father started me reading the adventure stories and thrillers that he liked, and we’d discuss them together. It wasn’t until years later that I realized he had a flare for writing. After he died, I’d indie published his personal journal of a 1929 cross-country hitchhiking trip that he’d wanted to see in print. I was sorry that I had missed the chance to discuss it with him in person but at least I fulfilled his last dream.

    • dianestuckart says

      Nancy, I’d forgotten about your dad’s journal. It’s so good you had that published for him. My mom in her final years wrote her autobiography which she had printed and bound and then gave to all of us kids and her sisters. I learned many interesting things about her and even about my dad from it, and I’m always grateful she took the time to put her story down in writing.

  4. My Father was the best. He was family oriented and when it came to Father’s Day when I was a kid, he always claimed he liked what we got him a gift even though he really. I remember as a a kid we even got creative sometimes too because money was tight we sometimes made his gifts. Seeing my Dad’s reaction to the homemade gifts were well priceless.

    • dianestuckart says

      Glad you had a great dad! We, too, made our Father’s Day gifts when we were kids. I hope he appreciated the sentiment even if the execution was pretty poor. 🙂

      • dianestuckart says

        LOL, I mean OUR execution. I’m sure you and your siblings were far more creative than we were!

  5. Dads are complex, for sure. I remember my dad white-knuckling it as he taught me how to drive. I was terrified of oncoming traffic and kept running off the road. Finally, he taught me to line up the center of the hood with the fog line, saying that would keep us both safe. My spatial awareness was not the greatest. On one of my first or second attempts, I swerved to miss a turtle on the road, and of course, ran right over him. I couldn’t breathe. My dad was so upset. “Why’d you swerve to hit the turtle?” he asked. I told him I’d swerved to miss it. Upshot of the story is I got stronger glasses, practiced more on turtle-free roads, and didn’t murder anymore turtles. However, I still rely heavily on the fog line at night and during rain storms and I’m thankful for all the lessons my dad taught me.

    • dianestuckart says

      Ha, my dad was smart and said he’d not teach any of us, that we’d all take driver ed at school. But I never forgot his first rule that you always look a second time before changing lanes or crossing an intersection. Most of his work life was spent on the road and he said that 2nd look saved him more than once.

  6. cherylhollon says

    Tuesday was the second anniversary of my father’s passing. I can’t believe so much time has gone by. It seems both fast and an eternity. I owe my love of reading and libraries to my dad. He sneaked me into the adult stacks so that I could check out books the librarian would let me have. LOVE THAT!

    • dianestuckart says

      Bravo to your dad for not being afraid to break the rules for a good cause. 🙂

  7. Sadly, I can’t say I have any special memories of my father, who was about as unfatherly as you can get. However, I make up for it with many fond memories of my grandfather.

    • dianestuckart says

      Sorry, Lois … unfortunately, it’s a crap shoot as to who you end up with for family. But glad your grandpa was someone you could admire.